Ebola scare: Mubende patients shun hospitals 

Before the epidemic was announced, Mubende regional referral hospital had an average turn up of 450 out patients and 200 in-patients per day. PHOTO/ DAN WANDERA

A section of the leadership and residents in parts of Mubende District have raised a red flag over the compromised essential health care partly blamed on the Ebola virus disease outbreak announced by the government on September 20, 2022.
Before the epidemic was announced, Mubende regional referral hospital had an average turn up of 450 out patients and 200 in-patients per day.
However, some district leaders have observed a reduction in the patient numbers turning up to access health services at the hospital and other health facilities such as Madudu health centre III, Kiyuni Health III and Butologo health centre III in the district.

Ms Klen Besigye, the Mubende District Vice Chairperson and Secretary for Health at the district Council says the district Ebola taskforce has already noted the problem where many people are shunning the essential health care at the lower health units and the Mubende regional referral hospital.
“The patients turning up at the Mubende regional referral hospital and the sister lower health units, including Madudu health centre III has declined. The numbers have reduced, not because there are no community health complications but the Ebola scare,” she says.
 “We have embarked on a campaign to sensitize the public because the medicines are available at the health units. A section of the public is scared and could be holed up at their respective homes,” she added.

But Mubende hospital director, Dr Emmanuel Batiibwe in a brief interview on Wednesday revealed that the services at the hospital had not been interrupted. 
“When a patient refuses to come to a facility, he or she must have reasons that they need to explain individually. We continue receiving patients at the different hospital departments that remain operational. However, we cannot refute the fact that some of the patients could be holed up at home in fear but the taskforce and surveillance teams have embarked on a community sensitization programme. Our people should be able to access the medical services at the hospital,” he said.

The other affected medical facilities include Madudu health centre III where the health teams have set up a second Ebola isolation facility. Madudu health centre III serves the population in Madudu and Butologo Subcounties in Mubende District.
On October 6, at the district stakeholder and Ebola taskforce meeting chaired by the Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng, the local council leaders from Madudu and Butologo Sub Counties in Mubende District claimed that the health care services at the lower units in their respective areas had slowed down with many residents holed up at home and dying without visiting the health units.
“We have many community deaths and the numbers are not reported. Our people need sensitization and medicines at the lower health centres,” Ms Sandra Nalwanga, the female district councilor representing Madudu Sub County told the Health Minister.

“While the country battles the Ebola virus disease that will certainly come to an end, the essential health care should not be crippled in Mubende District. The district health office should quickly map out strategies targeting the improved essential health care. We don’t want to have cases of people failing to access essential health care,” Dr Aceng advised.
The National Housing and Population Census 2014 put the population estimates for Mubende District at 688,294. The district population projections for the years 2015- 2020 stands at 717,361 served with three Health Centre IIIs and a regional hospital. The District leaders now want the upgrade of two health centre III units to health centre IV status for better health service delivery.  

In a televised address on Wednesday evening, President Museveni directed religious leaders and traditional healers to stop handling or admitting patients seeking miracle healing prayers and charm, arguing that it could increase the spread of the virus.
At least 54 confirmed Ebola infections and 19 virus deaths have been registered since the outbreak was announced in the country, according to government.

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